Next Generation Communications Week in Review: China Mobile, Large Enterprises and NFV

This week in the Next Generation Communications Community touched on a variety of areas, many of them featuring community host Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) (ALU).  This includes items relating to things under the sea, on the ground and over the air.


In the news, ALU had the following developments of note:

First, we’ll touch on the sea: ALU revealed that it successfully completed the first stage of the Polish Maritime Safety Initiative modernization project.  It involves deployment of an IP/MPLS system that enables control, management and monitoring of technology-based information that will allow Poland’s maritime authority an increased efficiency in safety and operations at all eighteen ports in the Baltic Sea. This project has been dubbed the “National Network of Global Maritime Distress and Safety Systems (GMDSS).”  They also released a short view on how the new Moana cable that connects Hawaii and New Zealand is a milestone in submarine cable history.

In other ALU-related news, the company has helped Canada’s Videotron (News - Alert) provide better customer experiences with deployment of the ALU Motive Customer Experience Management solution. It will allow the Canadian communications services provider to optimize Internet performance as well as proactively fix network related problems before they become perceptible to customers and hence start flooding contact centers with calls.  And, Alcatel-Lucent is a major supplier to China Mobile (News - Alert), the world’s largest mobile services provider, and a key piece of technology ALU is providing is its 7950 XRS router which can deliver 16 Terabits of data per second and is capable of supporting 400 Gigabit per second Ethernet interfaces.

The other industry news that caught attention this week was the announcement from Windstream (News - Alert) of its expanded Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) service offering in Latin America to meet the explosive growth of data centers in that region.


As one of the aforementioned news item shows, ALU is a significant solutions provider in China.  One of the features this past week focuses again on the China Mobile relationship, specifically on China Mobile partnering with ALU business unit Nuage Networks and its Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) to expedite services development and delivery.

While admittedly I authored the posting, readers should be interested in the chronicle of the recent Alcatel-Lucent and BT (News - Alert) hackathon that explored the possibilities of leveraging ALU's Rapport APIs to rapidly develop new services. In addition, the conclusion of the two-part series on a recent comprehensive survey of large enterprise IT decision makers looks at Security, Budget and Investment, and Top Concerns and Purchase Drivers.  It also includes Alcatel-Lucent’s five recommendations to large enterprises looking to take advantage of these trends.

Finally, we gave all of our bloggers the week off so we could fit in the contribution from Phil Tilley, Senior Director, NFV and Cloud Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, Achieving Lean NFV operations: Building the Right Open NFV Platform.  He makes the point that all cloud deployments and telecom operational environments are not the same and says focus should be on three key development areas for building right open NFV platform.

Weekend reading

Since it is holiday party season the next few weeks, why not spend the weekend catching up.?  The community home page is your gateway to constantly up-dated news, whitepapers, videos, podcasts and case studies.  

For example, TechZine recommendations for this weekend include: 

Plus, if you have time, the home page also has links to the other eZines, GRIDTalk, TRACKTALK and LIFETALK. And, the “Digital Ideas” section which has a series of informative podcasts. 

Contact Center Analytics Week in Review: TrueBlue, ReportsnReports, and Frost & Sullivan

December 12, 2015

By Rory Lidstone
Contributing Writer

With little more than half a month left in 2015, the Contact Center Analytics space keeps on rolling. So let’s get started with our week in review coverage!

First up this week, provider of specialized workforce solutions TrueBlue expanded its workforce management group with the acquisition of staffing company SIMOS Insourcing Solutions. Indeed, SIMOS will be added as part of TrueBlue’s workforce management group but will continue to be managed by its current president and CEO, Kelly Carlson.

“SIMOS selected TrueBlue as its partner because it showed a strong desire to continue to build on our business and provide resources while keeping our management team in place,” said Tim Sims, the founder of SIMOS. “We’re delighted to have a fantastic partner in TrueBlue, who will work with us to continue to provide the highest level of service to clients.”

Next, the latest forecast from ReportsnReports examining the workforce management market was released. The industry has sunny days ahead as it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6 percent from 2015 to 2020. At this rate, it will grow from the $4.88 billion seen in 2015 to $7.75 billion in five years’ time.

In other news, a Frost & Sullivan whitepaper released this week highlighted Hewlett Packard’s workforce optimization solution, HP Explore 5, as well as the rest of the company’s WFO portfolio. The whitepaper, entitled “HP WFO: A New Position for a Brand You Trust,” stacks up how HP’s WFO portfolio fares against others in the market. In short, HP has managed to become a formidable contender in the industry, thanks in no small part to HP Explore 5, which Frost & Sullivan says is the jewel in HP’s WFO crown.

HP Explore 5 boasts an engine capable of driving advanced multi-channel analytics, creating a seamless experience across all contact center touch points.

Finally, the American Automobile Association, or Triple A, was recognized by Ventana Research for solid contact center results. In particular, Triple A of Western and Central New York manager of planning, analytics and quality Alexander Wareham was recognized for his efforts in the "Contact Center and Call Center" category of the 2015 Leadership Awards. To achieve award-winning results in his contact center, Wareham used the Calabrio ONE platform, which helped improve agent performance and customer satisfaction, while growing company revenue through increased sales.

That about does it for this week in the Contact Center Analytics space, but tune in next week for more developments as they happen.

WebRTC Solutions Week in Review: Ericsson, QuickBlox, Google, Code Creator, Radish Systems

December 12, 2015

WebRTC Solutions news this week focuses on the efforts of Ericsson, QuickBlox, Google, Code Creator, and Radish Systems. Recent product releases and updates address mobile, desktop browsers and cloud-based development of applications.

Ericsson leads the pack this week with the release of Bowser 0.6 – the latest experimental version of its WebRTC-based browser. Ericsson claims that this is the first browser of its kind for mobile devices. The intent of a final release of this software should allow developers to easily add audio and video to their Web applications through use of Ericsson’s WebRTC API.

Speaking of development for mobile, QuickBlox recently announced support for group video calling in its Android SDK 2.4. This completes the company’s development of such features for which users have wanted for years. It adds to existing group calling support in iOS and acts as a preview for what developers can soon expect in Web-based applications. Support in QuickBlox’s Web API is expected to land by the end of 2015.

Google’s release of Chrome 47 comes with extended support for WebRTC as well. Its MediaStreamRecorder API gives developers the ability to capture and replay streaming video, and the new MediaDevices.enumerateDevices tool gives those developers a way to enumerate audio output devices. Additional tools for working proxies now also allow Web-based communications traffic to travel through proxies and make use of virtual private networks.

Code Creator is also doing its part to assist with application development. The landing of its new Red5 Media cloud development environment gives users the ability to use the cloud for media streaming and code management. Its centralized cloud-based workspace gives individuals and teams the ability to create and deploy new products. For existing and future generations of users’ products, teams can also use the cloud to work together.

Image via Pixabay

In business environments such as call centers, the proper queuing of calls becomes extremely important. Often, interactive voice response systems route calls to the appropriate places, but what happens when a caller wants to initiate interaction on the Web? Radish Systems tries to make that request simple with the new ChoiceView WebRTC application, which gives callers the ability connect with businesses through their browsers and then participate in voice calls with added visual help. Both caller and brand can complete voice calls as usual, and they can both expect the power of visuals to assist in their browsers.

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Call Recording Week in Review: Fathom Voice, CTI Group, Datatex

Call Recording Week in Review: Fathom Voice, CTI Group, Datatex

December 12, 2015

This week’s call recording news included a number of new offerings focused on improving communications experiences for businesses.

Indianapolis, IN-based Fathom Voice announced it’s helping small and medium sized businesses by offering a solution that integrates multiple technologies into one and makes it easier to “tap into the power of cloud communications.”

“With Fathom Connect, we want to make it as simple as possible for small businesses to tap into the power of cloud communications,” said Cameron Weeks, CEO of Fathom Voice. “We’re constantly refining our product, its interface, and its user-friendliness. The end result is a system that not only allows employees to communicate better, but also dramatically reduces overhead costs for PBX systems.”

The offering, Fathom Connect, is an upgraded version of the company’s cloud phone system and offers Customer Care, Sales Accelerator and Call Tracking.

CTI Group, another Indianapolis, IN-based company, offers telecommunications software tools and was recently acquired by Enghouse.

Enghouse made the acquisition through its subsidiary, New Acquisitions Corporation, and said it would immediately gain benefits from tools it now has under its belt as part of the deal. This includes CTI Group's analytics platform which offers tools for cost analysis and makes it possible for service providers to use customer data for actionable insights.

Perhaps more important than the benefits businesses will get from having solutions that include call recording, is the role recording solutions play in the call center.

Here call recordings can be used to keep a record of customer calls, details of what was said, and ensure compliance. With Datatex Dynamics CC Recording Solution, it can even offer support for agents who are working remotely. The company, which is based in Cape Town, South Africa, offers telephony solutions to several countries in Africa as well as a reseller program. Recently it introduced iReCall Mobile Recording (IMR) offering which makes it possible for agents to securely record calls as easily as if they were in the office.

Speaking of privacy and security, an article this week looked at the ways voice biometrics provides more than just security.

For businesses, having users provide a voice print means there will be security as unique as a fingerprint for identifying someone.  In fact, voice e-signatures are already considered binding under several statues and companies like JP Morgan are using VoiceVault voice biometrics to secure their mobile app which requires voice authentication to log in and approve wire transfers.

That’s all for this week. Check back for all the latest in Call Recording news as it happens. Until next week…

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Shia Surprise! Actor Opens Temporary Call Center to the Public

Continuing his outlandish series of performance art installations, the actor Shia LaBeouf has just opened the lines for his very own call center. The art performance, titled “#Touch My Soul,” will put fans in contact with the actor for private conversations. He’s asking fans to move him.

The event is being hosted in a U.K. art gallery. The official site doesn’t disclose what lucky company earned the privilege of hosting LaBeouf’s call center, but a live feed of the performance shows Shia wearing a very comfortable headset. Jabra (News - Alert), perhaps, or maybe Sennheiser?

This isn’t the first time LaBeouf has made the news with his art. Last month he performed in an exhibit called #ALLMYMOVIES where he watched, as you could probably guess, all of his movies in reverse chronological order. His reactions were broadcast via a live video feed, which quickly spread across all the most popular social channels. The exhibit saw him laugh, sleep, and eat fan-delivered pizza while passersby stopped into the theater to watch.

Before #ALLMYMOVIES, LaBeouf explored the versatility of the paper bag as mask and artistic medium. He attended a red carpet wearing a paper bag on his head reading “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE,” and then later he opened an exhibit called  #IAMSORRY where he wore a paper bag and allowed fans to interact with him as he sat, silent, and watched.  

For those of you looking to touch Shia LaBeouf’s soul, you can contact him at +44 (0) 151 808 0771. It’s a British line, so make sure you can make international calls. He’ll be available from now until Sunday, but those lines are very busy. Believe me, I’ve tried. 

Oh, Shia. Will you ever stop surprising us?

Edited by Maurice Nagle

State Farm to Hire As Many As 1,000 in Phoenix

State Farm, the national insurance carrier, plans to start the 2016 year big by hiring as many as 1,000 people in the metropolitan area of Phoenix.

According to local news source, the insurer is expanding its Valley location and will begin its search for new customer service, IT, claims, and sales personnel on Jan. 12 at the Sheraton Mesa Hotel. In an all-day job fair, it will seek a number of individuals for each of those types of positions.

The news report shares the information that the new State Farm facility in Marina Heights already has about 1,000 employees at its call. The addition of another 1,000 may look impressive – sorry if that’s not enough – but the story doesn’t end there. The hiring that will take place following this upcoming job fair is only the first round of additions to the facility.

If State Farm has its way, it could hold another job fair later in 2016 to gather even more potential applicants for the positions listed above. The insurer has not said how many employees it plans to hire by year’s end.

Existing and future employees can look forward to benefits that compliment their salaries. The location of Phoenix could also draw a number of bilingual applicants who may make a good fit in positions that require fluency in both English and Spanish.

State Farm made headlines earlier this year in a partnership with Canary, a manufacturer of home security monitoring devices. The insurer’s customers could qualify for homeowner insurance discounts if they decide to utilize Canary products in their own homes.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

European Union Considers Sweeping Changes to Mobile Landscape

Earlier this week, the ITIF, Information Technology and Innovative Foundation, released an analysis of the European Union. It asked if the EU could benefit from streamlining mobile carriers and practices, reflecting the efforts of the United States.

Calling for bold reforms from policymakers in manifesting a single EU-wide market for mobile communications, the organization criticizes current mobile practices, as simply being “half measures” taken to evolve the current status of mobile industry. The European Commission, however, appears willing to take these leaps of faith, based on the promising mobile digital landscape and what it has to offer the economy in terms of growth, productivity and progress.

With 28 national mobile markets in the EU, there is less room for growth, however.  There are literally hundreds of regional carriers adding to the problem, as well. Centrally, there is less control over markets that have three or more national carriers, contributing to the overall saturation and competitive landscape. This has led to rising monthly costs and roaming fees.

Scaling the overall market to at maximum of six carriers is advised in reducing costs per subscriber and unnecessary roaming charges. This will also provide more value to the regional carriers, who will then be allowed to expand and evolve mobile technologies – including the potential expansions of 5G networks, set to hit the EU in the near future. Merging of telecommunications companies, licensure and even auctioned acquisition by major mobile carriers are being proposed as solutions to leading the mobile markets to successful transition into a new age in mobile.

As of 2015, only 17 percent of Europe accesses 4G and LTE networks, whereas the United States proves to have over half of the population connected with one or more devices at all times. Americans are said to use five times the amount of talk time, as compared to Europeans, while downloads over 4G networks are only doubling that of Europe. It is clear that subscribers are limiting voice minutes, while eagerly consuming data.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of Europe, each country is about the same size as one state in the US. This means that, not only are markets saturated, but signals are also spilling into the airwaves of other countries – and yet, they are missing rural areas in their own. This is also a factor in adoption, because international policies on mobile and data networks aren’t necessarily attuned to the evolving technologies and rapid growth in mobile consumption.

Collaboration amongst governing agencies would allow cross-territorial connection of mobile networks, allowing for faster, more reliable speeds at wholesale prices. The need for roaming would be eliminated in some cases. Simple, unified regulations would also encourage mobile evolution and grow the mobile industry potential within the EU, whereas new revenue streams would be made available for the continent, keeping the EU in the competitive markets for technology consumption and innovation, altogether. Lifting bans on certain practices would also shift possibilities, leading to additional innovations, connectivity and investments necessary for upgrades in wireless systems in countries with poor service and limited options.

As the report explains, borders are artificial. The question here is: “If borders are actually overlapping, why aren’t they being connected to prove as a stronger, more efficient network to benefit the continent, the people, the economy and commerce?” It should make you wonder why they haven’t standardized the mobile industry years ago. After all, it has been almost 20 years since the average household began to prefer texting over talking on the phone – and almost 15 years since people have been relying on mobile technologies for Internet access on the go.

Perhaps the EU is feeling pressure from the rest of the world, as mobile technologies are becoming the centerpiece of our lives when connecting to the outside world. Mobile commerce and productivity has become a stronghold in the average business model. Without a plan of action and a failing global economy, it necessary to catch up.

Through globalization, there is a need always be connected. Hindering the potential of the globalization on the European continent would leave them far behind the rest of the world. In fact, implementing new structure to the current mobile landscape may create new economies and be the solution to the current economic crisis. After all, according to a last month’s survey by Cigna and the National Foreign Council, global mobility is essentially shaping the economic arena and capabilities within the new world. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

SwitchRay Launches New Virtual PBX Web Portal

SwitchRay Launches New Virtual PBX Web Portal

December 11, 2015

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

When it comes to communication technology like virtual PBX and other cloud based services, small and medium sized businesses all over the world can go out and compete against their larger counterparts. To that end, SwitchRay announced, earlier this week that it is launching a new web portal that is geared towards helping its customers gain access to a rather powerful and effective hosted PBX management platform.

Those users who take advantage of what SwitchRay is bringing will be able to use an interface that is geared towards simplicity. The kinds of services they will be able to use with this virtual PBX lineup are voice menus, hunt groups, virtual chat rooms, call recording and voice mail. The users will also be able to use services like fax-to-email. All of these features will allow a smaller company to communicate and collaborate just they are one of the big boys.

“Our new user-friendly web-portal takes business operations to a whole new level,” commented Steve Petilli, President & CEO of SwitchRay in a recent release announcing the Web Portal. “Our highest priority is to help our customer’s businesses become more effective by streamlining data, unifying access and integrating applications to support the business processes, as well as provide access to real-time, current and consistent information.”

This is the kind of modern communication tool that can make a big difference when a firm is looking both to compete in the current business climate as well as find a way to better talk to customers. Best of all, for the companies that choose to use this platform is they will be getting quick access to statistics for both outgoing and incoming calls. There will also be an event log with a history of all users’ action inside the web portal. Because this is a virtual PBX, users will be able to access the dashboard from a number of different computers.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Energy Efficiency the New Hot Topic in the Data Center

As both our professional and personal lives increasingly revolve around computing technology, and this technology moves to the cloud, data center efficiency becomes a prime consideration.

Data centers uses between 10 and 100 times more energy than an office, according to a new report by Future Resource Engineering. What’s more, the report found, is that the demand for computing power and cloud storage is growing much faster than efficiency.

Firms such as Google and Facebook have recognized this issue. Facebook recently reviewed its data center infrastructure from top to bottom with an eye toward reengineering for better efficiency. Just last week, Google also made the largest non-utility purchase of renewable energy when it announced that it had purchased 842 megawatts of green power for its data centers.

Other firms with large data center footprints are also working on the problem. Last month data center firm, Equinix signed 225 megawatts of wind energy from NextEra Energy Resources and Invenergy LLC. This will bring the company’s total renewable energy coverage in North America to 100 percent by the end of 2016.

While some firms might be addressing the energy efficiency issue, most businesses still have a ways to go; Future Resource Engineering examined 40 data center locations and found room for 24,467,186 kilowatts of energy savings that could save $2.2 million directly and another $1.4 million in potential utility incentives.

Most of the efficiency improvements fell along the lines of improved environmental and power monitoring, enhanced control and automation of data center infrastructure, improved cooling and airflow, and increases in capacity, redundancy, and uptime.

Businesses that support their own data centers would be wise to look at such solutions given the growing need for computing energy efficiency. Demand for both computing power and storage probably won’t slack any time soon, so it is up to better engineering to meet the challenge of better energy efficiency.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Radish’s ChoiceView WebRTC Brings Video to Contact Centers, IVRs

Radish Systems (News - Alert) is no stranger to harnessing the power of real-time video to create a better customer experience. In fact, the company recently added ChoiceView Visual Directory to its ‘voice with visuals’ product suite. However, Radish hadn’t yet tapped the power of browser-based real-time communications with WebRTC until this week, with the release of ChoiceView WebRTC.

With ChoiceView WebRTC, Radish aims to provide an alternative to the typical scenario of calls to businesses being answered by an interactive voice response (IVR) system or contact center agent with voice only. With ChoiceView WebRTC, callers can place a call from within their web browser, allowing them to interact with video as well as voice, without needing to download a separate app.

In other words, Radish’s newest offering gets to the core of WebRTC functionality by making browser-based communications user friendly.

With the added benefit of visual interaction, users can receive contextual visual help during a browsing session, allowing them to receive a level of care not possible with voice-only solutions. On the business end, the phone call and visual sharing are completely compatible with existing communications infrastructure, making adopting ChoiceView WebRTC a low-cost venture.

In fact, with the power of the ChoiceView REST API, businesses are able to upgrade their voice-only IVRs to visual IVRs with a simple script change. The result is end-to-end voice and video calls that allow businesses to support multi-channel transactions with little effort or upfront cost. In addition, ChoiceView WebRTC allows companies to preserve their numbering plan, switching, queueing, redirection and skills-based routing. Agents will continue to receive incoming calls as normal, but with the added ability to visually share images, videos, web pages, screenshots and even files.

Even for businesses that currently use another product in the ChoiceView suite, ChoiceView WebRTC can provide another way to communicate that complements other ways to engage in a ChoiceView session.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi